It is derby’s version of the “I-70 Series” and St. Louis is looking to score a major road win this Sunday.
The Arch Rival Roller Girls All-Stars, currently ranked #21 internationally by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), battles #28 Kansas City. The 3 p.m. event takes place at Kansas City’s Windwood Skate Center.
St. Louis (3-1) puts its three-game winning streak on the line in the cross-state road trip. Arch Rival topped #31 No Coast, 248-138, last Saturday at home by utilizing numerous uncontested scoring rallies.
“I think we’re getting a lot better at working together as a team, so I think we were all super excited with how things ended up,” said Arch Rival co-captain Brickyard, who notched 120 points in the victory. Jamming teammates Mighty Mighty Boston and Annie Swanson added 67 and 56 points, respectively.
But the lynchpins to last Saturday’s 110-point triumph was Arch Rival’s blocking battalion, paced by co-captain Mayor Francis Slayer, Eli Wallop, Party Foul, Emily Rinehart, Kayla Seiber, Girl Fawkes, Downtown Dallis and a host of others. The architects on quads set the tone early against No Coast, implementing a 55-0 rally early the bout.
The teamwork within the packs has helped Brickyard develop as a jammer and she knows full well that the triple-digit outputs that she has eclipsed numerous times this season are the direct result of her sistren laying down the foundation.
“When I first started playing, I kept thinking that I had to just keep pushing myself as hard as I could,” said the team’s leading scorer. “Now that we have more set plays, I’ve gotten a lot better at seeing what our defense is doing and then when they go to offense, just using them to go forward. Not doing it on my own, but doing it with everybody.”
Arch Rival looks to maintain traction within the WFTDA rankings with both a win and a large margin of victory. Sunday’s Show-Me State Western counterpart is looking for similar results.
Kansas City is currently 0-6, but when looking at its early schedule, it’s safe to say that numerous leagues comparable to the Roller Warriors would have suffered the same fate.
“We had quite a bit of turnover after last season, so not only did we start with a small core of veteran All Stars, but we also kicked off our season playing some of the top ranked teams in the WFTDA,” said Kansas City co-captain Mary Lou Wretched.
KCRW’s first four opponents this season are currently ranked in the WFTDA’s Top 10: #4 Texas, #5 Rose City, #6 Denver and #8 Rocky Mountain. All were setbacks, but all were somewhat projected considering the veteran depth, skill set and firepower these opposing leagues possess. Its next two games were losses handed by #22 Philly and #37 Terminal City, two resurging leagues whose respective rankings might be misleadingly low.
To keep pace with that extremely strong half-dozen was quite a tall task for the Kansas City contingent that is fielding veteran starters while injecting new faces into the roster for future league growth.
“Despite significant losses, we’ve made great strides in a short amount of time and have really worked hard to learn to play together as a team,” said Wretched. “We’ve learned a lot by playing these teams and I believe it will positively affect the way we play the rest of the season.”
At face value, the roster turnover and team development that Kansas City is currently experiencing in 2014 mirrors Arch Rival, whose charter complexion is 50% different compared to last post-season. Hence, the Roller Warriors finds itself coming into Sunday’s bout not as an underdog, but as an equivalent.
The Roller Warriors’ offense will be paced by returning jammers Annie Maul, Trauma and Ruth Canal. Alongside Wretched, veteran blockers Barbrarian, Bruz-Her and Tough Noogies are joined this season by Roller Warriors’ newcomer Hydrogen Bombshell, formally of the Arch Rival Roller Girls.
“I could name a number of KCRW skaters who are incredible teammates,” said Wretched. “Bruz-Her is a core member of our team and she always brings a great sense of calm to everyone who is on the floor. Trauma is a force of her own, and she’s used to practicing with (MRDA defending champs) Your Mom and stepping it up as a new member of Team USA. It really shows on the track.”
Kansas City holds a 3-1 lead in wins historically between the two, with St. Louis picking up its first victory in April 2013. The proverbial slate gets completely wiped clean this weekend, but Wretched knows that her squad must be cautious in its approach.
“We’re not underestimating Arch Rival as we head into Sunday’s bout,” the captain said. “They’ve always been fierce competitors and we know ARRG is always hungry for wins against us. They’ve played some great games this season, so we believe it’ll be a hard-fought battle from the first whistle.”
The match-up also has WFTDA rankings implications for both. Arch Rival maintained is current position of #21 this month while Kansas City moved one position higher to #28. The goal for both leagues is to be ranked within the WFTDA’s Top 40 at the first of July. If the two Missouri-based leagues hit that benchmark, they both would respectively be eligible for the governing body’s Division 1 playoffs beginning in September.
Kansas City, who won the WFTDA Championship in 2007, most definitely wants to be invited to the big dance and a win against St. Louis Sunday afternoon keeps that goal within its sights.
“Considering our losses this season, we’re definitely concerned about our rankings and wanting to remain competitive, so a win against Arch Rival would be a step in the right direction,” said Wretched. “While our recent losses have hit us hard rankings-wise, they’ve also helped push us to want to fight that much harder.”
Likewise, Arch Rival knows that strong execution could potentially reap benefits on the flat-track, in the record book, and within the WFTDA rankings.
“(Kansas City) is kind of the same position as us as far as having a lot of new players and struggling to get back to where they want to be,” said Brickyard of the opposition. “We are definitely going to use this bout as an opportunity to tighten everything that we’ve done so far and get everything together.”
The event also features a b-team bout between Arch Rival’s Saint Lunachix and Kansas City’s Plan B. The Lunachix (2-2) scored a 233-85 victory over No Coast Road Warriors last Saturday to even its record. KCRW’s Plan B is currently 1-3.
For more information on the Arch Rival Roller Girls, visit archrivalrollergirls.com.
For more information on the Kansas City Roller Warriors, visit kcrollerwarriors.com.